Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga

I finished this game a couple days ago, and had a blast doing so, here are my thoughts on it!

Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga was one of the first games I discovered when I started to do emulation on my PSP, ever since I have started it a few times, but I never quite managed to get it done.

Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga
Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga

Months ago I finally begun a new playthrough, since I think I lost my save file again, the farther I got to was the fight with the Piranha Plant at the Airport. This time, I started on my PSP and again, forgot about it, but after moving my save to the Miyoo Mini Plus, I thought it was time to finish it once and for all.

In case you don’t know. Mario & Luigi is an RPG series set in the Mario universe, in a similar style to Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG. Superstar Saga is the first game of the series and it was originally released on the Game Boy Advance in 2003—more than 20 years ago at this point.

The game differs from most regular turn based combat RPGs for a simple reason, not only can you attack an enemy in a variety of ways, but you can also improve your damage output, evade enemy attacks and counter them too. This is done by pressing the A and B buttons at specific times, kind of like quick time events, except they are actually fun. It ends up being more like a rythm game in the end, and it remains fresh the entire playthrough.

So, for example, instead of going through a menu, choosing an action, waiting for it to happen, be hit in response and wait your next turn. You use a hammer, press a button right before the swing’s about to happen, and boost your damage! Then the enemy get’s close to attack you, you jump to avoid it, and land on him to counter-attack.

Anyway, while the combat is really, really fun, the traversal around the World is also not bad, featuring platforming and puzzles. Mario and Luigi can use different jumps, tools, abilities and items to get where they need to be, and these can also become “Bros. Attacks” that are combo attacks where both characters combine their strenght to do much more damage together, kind of like Chrono Trigger, but with their own twist.

Storywise, it’s just great writing, the comedy is gold, and all the characters in the game are charming and well done. Basically, Peach gets her voice stolen by a fake embassy from the Beanbean Kingdom who turn out to be the main villains Cackletta and Fawful. So, Mario & Luigi have to go after them to get it back. The premise is pretty unique and ridiculous, and it’s so good!

The boss battles are really well designed and they are full of interesting mechanics and attacks to learn and avoid. They are also a bit on the easy side, which is good and bad. For example, some of them even had attacks I never saw because I defeated them too quickly, which is a bit of a shame. Of course your mileage may vary.

The most difficult areas for me were the last two dungeons, because enemies hit really hard and avoiding them was quite a pain. However, they are very useful for farming EXP and coins once you figure them out.

The game also has items you can use to change the gameplay quite a bit and help you on your adventure, there are many different badges to obtain, some will refill your Bros. Points (needed to perform Bros. Attacks), others will improve your defense, and stuff like that. You can change your pants to gain other bonuses too. There’s tons of secrets and upgrades to find, it’s quite cozy.

Anwyay, it’s one of the best games on the GBA, I think it holds up extremely well to this day, and it has a remake on the Switch too in case you’re interested on trying it, I would say it’s worth playing. It is only 16 or so hours, although I took my time with it, at around 23 hours to complete it.

Give it a go!

This is day 59 of #100DaysToOffload.


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